A business disputes specialist, Catherine is a trusted advisor to businesses and individuals in obtaining successful outcomes.

Businesses rely on Catherine as a trusted advisor as well as lawyer in guiding them through complex litigation and disputes. This trusting relationship developed with her clients sees Catherine as an in-demand lawyer who understands the commercial realities of being involved in a dispute.

Working across a number of industries, Catherine specialises in business disputes, including defamation, contractual disputes, and trusts disputes. She is a versatile litigator adept at handling any challenge and is well respected for her ability to work across a number of areas and industries.

Client focused and a regular author and presenter, Catherine regularly advises on defamation, partnership, shareholder and contractual disputes, misleading and deceptive conduct claims, compulsory acquisition, PPSR, and reinstatement of companies. She regularly works with Counsel and appears on behalf of clients in proceedings in all Victorian State and Federal Courts.

Catherine has been interviewed on ABC Radio National and has been published by publications such as Smart Company, Industry Insider Magazine, Association of Corporate Counsel and Australia Property Journal.

Key Matters

  • Providing advice regarding submissions to Banking Royal Commission.
  • Successfully negotiating a settlement for an executive against a large multinational company.
  • Acting for a family defamed by a newspaper (in print and online) to obtain a successful settlement offer and public apology from the newspaper.
  • Acting for well-known companies in disputes with their franchisees and negotiating successful outcomes for the franchisors.
  • Successfully acting in a commercial arbitration regarding grain trade.
  • Acting for a defendant in a large misleading and deceptive conduct claim after a sale of business – winning the Court proceedings.
  • Acting in a number of significant partnership disputes and negotiating a successful outcome for the client in each case.
  • Advising and guiding various business people through personal insolvency and coming to very favourable arrangements with creditors.
  • Acting for liquidators in many public examinations of high profile company directors.
  • Strategically prosecuting and defending unfair preference claims.

Areas of Expertise

Key focus areas:

Commercial Litigation

  • Partnership and shareholder disputes
  • Contractual disputes
  • Defamation
  • Franchising disputes
  • Misleading and deceptive conduct claims
  • Banking and finance disputes, inc debt recovery
  • Property and planning disputes
  • Compulsory acquisition
  • Debt collection
  • PPSR advice and litigation
  • Trust disputes
  • Reinstatement of companies
  • Commercial arbitration

Insolvency and Reconstruction

  • Public examinations
  • Unfair preference claims
  • Uncommercial transaction claims
  • Insolvent trading claims, inc ASIC and ASFA notifications
  • Breach of directors duties
  • Director penalty notices.
  • Bankruptcy advice (trustees, creditors and bankrupts).
  • Bankruptcy disputes, including petition and sale of assets.
  • Advising creditors, directors and shareholders in relation to the insolvency process including attending creditors meetings, proofs of debt, advising regarding potential liability and any potential claims.
  • Personal reconstruction, including personal insolvency agreements.
  • Company reconstruction, including deeds of company arrangement.
  • Advising liquidators in relation to all aspects of liquidations including potential claims, the Personal Property and Securities Act and whether to admit proofs of debt.

Recent Articles by Catherine Ballantyne

Online reviews matter in our digital dependent post-COVID world: What do you do if they are defamatory?

In 2020, we became even more dependent on online business as brick and mortar stores faced prolonged closures and customers were largely based at home. Google reviews became a vital decision-making tool for customers on whether they should use a...
11 March, 2021

Where are all the insolvencies? An analysis of the figures

In normal circumstances each year there are thousands of companies which end up (voluntarily or otherwise) in some form of external administration. In the middle of a pandemic, you would expect that this figure would increase. Contrary to this however,...
23 February, 2021

Demand from a liquidator for an uncommercial transaction

It is not uncommon for businesses to receive a demand from a liquidator claiming they have benefited from an uncommercial transaction however they should not be taken lightly. Recipients should immediately seek specialist legal advice as there can be serious,...
17 February, 2021

Play centre wound up on just and equitable grounds over safety and management concerns

In a case recently handed down[1] the Court wound up a company on “just and equitable” grounds. A Court can wind up a company for reasons other than it being insolvent if there are compelling reasons to do so. In...
9 February, 2021

Winding up a company for reasons other than insolvency

The most common reason that companies are wound up is because they are insolvent (often initiated by an unpaid creditor). Did you know, however, that companies can be wound up on grounds other than insolvency? This is called winding up...
9 February, 2021

Three strategies to get paid in 2021

It is a sobering reality that as Australia starts to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses in the supply chain are likely to fail and cause a domino reaction with their contacts. You need to set yourself up...
1 February, 2021

Unpacking Unfair Preferences Series: Set off defence and unfair preferences

In our earlier two articles we discussed the good faith defence and the running account defence. Another commonly used defence is the defence of set off.
2 December, 2020

Unpacking Unfair Preferences Series: Running account defence

When a liquidator brings a claim for an unfair preference against a company or individual, there are a number of defences available to them. In our earlier article we discussed the commonly used good faith defence. Another commonly used defence...
25 November, 2020

Unpacking Unfair Preferences Series: The good faith defence

The good faith defence is one of the most common in unfair preference cases, however it is not successful in many cases. It is important to understand the factors and evidence which will put you in the best position to...
18 November, 2020

Unpacking Unfair Preferences Series: Insolvency at the time of the payments

Liquidators are required to prove various elements to successfully claim transactions are unfair preferences. One element is that the payment(s) must have been made when the company (now in liquidation) was insolvent.
11 November, 2020

Insolvent trading – know your obligations

Due to the economic repercussions of COVID-19, insolvent trading has become an area of law that all those involved in business should understand. With the temporary relief on insolvent trading for directors scheduled to end on 31 December 2020, it...
9 November, 2020

Unpacking Unfair Preferences Series: Is the creditor a secured or unsecured creditor?

There are various elements a liquidator has to prove to successfully claim transactions are unfair preferences. One element is that the payment must be made to an unsecured creditor.
5 November, 2020

Six things you need to know about a liquidator’s examination

If you or someone you know has been served with a summons to appear at an examination by a liquidator, it is important you are aware of your obligations and the implications. What is a liquidator’s examination? It is a...
29 October, 2020

Unpacking Unfair Preferences Series: Amending claims after the statute of limitation has expired

Good news for liquidators: in certain circumstances, additional transactions can be added to an existing unfair preference claim after the expiry of the time limit.
28 October, 2020

Unpacking Unfair Preferences Series: What is an unfair preference?

It’s an unfortunate situation that those who provide a product or service often find themselves in. They’ve done the work, provided a product, invoiced for the work or product and are therefore entitled to be paid. It can therefore be...
21 October, 2020

Selling Your Business: Common Mistakes

After a sale of business is completed we see people being sued for the same issues again and again. We have outlined below two of the most commonly litigated areas and some tips to minimise the risk of being sued.  ...
12 October, 2020

Insolvency Law: Recent case tests Deed Administrator’s requirement to provide documents to creditor

In a recent case[1] the Supreme Court of Victoria considered a Deed Administrator’s requirement to provide documents to a creditor[2]. The documents in question Pacreef Investments Pty Ltd (Pacreef) wrote to the administrators and sought the production of a number...
5 October, 2020

Victorian Court of Appeal exposes a possible loophole in unfair preference regime

The Court of Appeal has this week[1] exposed a possible loophole in the unfair preference regime by finding: To be an unfair preference the payment(s) must be received ‘from the company’ which claims the preference. To meet this criteria, the...
7 August, 2020

How are the Courts handling COVID-19?

COVID-19 has affected almost every part of our lives. Businesses have had to adapt quickly to change in environment, as have the legal profession and the Courts. Each court has approached the issue differently with varying levels of change to...
22 April, 2020

Guide to appealing your case in commercial matters

Every court is different when it comes to appealing a decision. It is important to be aware of the different requirements if you are considering appealing a decision as well as the consequences that may result from the appeal. On...
9 April, 2020

Coronavirus and the Law: Six things businesses should be doing right now

It is a sobering reality of the COVID-19 pandemic that many businesses in the supply chain are likely to fail and cause a domino reaction with their contacts. You need to set yourself up now to put yourself in the...
6 April, 2020

Coronavirus and the Law: Now is the time to check your terms and conditions and protect yourself!

Oftentimes, terms and conditions (T & C’s) are created and then not reviewed for many years. When there is a problem – like those that might arise due to the coronavirus pandemic – the first thing that is considered is...
30 March, 2020

Coronavirus and the Law: My customer has an administrator / liquidator appointed – what should I do?

The current COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc with businesses and it is an unfortunate reality that in the event one of your customers becomes insolvent, your business could be severely affected. In part three of this series, Special Counsel Catherine...
25 March, 2020

Coronavirus and the Law: I am concerned about my customer not being able to pay me

It is an unfortunate reality that your business can be severely affected when one of your customers becomes insolvent. With the current COVID-19 pandemic, it is a sobering reality that many businesses in the supply chain are likely to fail...
18 March, 2020

Coronavirus and the Law Series: Where the wording of your contract really counts!

Welcome to the Madgwicks Lawyers Coronavirus and the Law Series. In this series, Special Counsel Catherine Ballantyne explores some of the legal problems stemming from the virus and its effects on businesses in order to shine light on the issues...
18 March, 2020

Coronavirus and the Law Series: Commercial leases and the coronavirus

Welcome to part two of the Madgwicks Lawyers Coronavirus and the Law Series. In this series, Special Counsel Catherine Ballantyne explores some of the legal problems stemming from the virus and its effects on businesses in order to shine light...
16 March, 2020

Coronavirus and the Law Series: Coronavirus and commercial contracts – what are the consequences?

The coronavirus has thrown Australians into uncharted territory with the implications of the outbreak still a major unknown with the effect on our economy remaining to be seen. The ability for businesses and individuals to hold up or enforce contracts...
12 March, 2020

Informal agreement with friend becomes a costly battle

In brief Time and time again, we see people entering into informal agreements without proper documentation. As the recent case of Neve v Kent [2020] VCC 22 demonstrates, even if you trust the other party it is important to properly...
10 March, 2020

Power of Attorney – what to do if the position is being abused

As Australia’s aging population continues to rapidly expand, more and more people are asking their loved ones to be their Power of Attorney when they are incapable of managing their own affairs. By and large this arrangement works and is...
11 September, 2019

Oppression of a minority shareholder – a common dispute

If directors and majority shareholders of a company are conducting themselves in a manner that oppresses minority shareholders, the minority shareholders may have a claim against them.
14 August, 2019

Five things you need to know about challenging or contesting a will

Contesting a will is an emotionally challenging decision that regularly involves disputes with a loved one. To try and minimise distress and ensure a smooth process, it is important to ensure that you make the correct claim within the required...
31 July, 2019

Holding a tenant’s goods for failing to pay rent an expensive mistake for landlord

The County Court has held in a recent case that a landlord cannot hold a tenant’s goods until outstanding rent is paid.
17 July, 2019

Is my Google review defamatory?

So, when is a Google review considered defamatory? What is the line between someone sharing their honest opinion in the review and that review becoming defamatory?
8 July, 2019

Selling Your Business: Five Common Dangers to Avoid

Selling a business requires careful consideration and planning. Often, if a business doesn’t perform as expected, the purchaser will look to the vendor to compensate them for the poor performance of the business.
3 July, 2019

Evidence is crucial when dealing with misuse of confidential information by former employees

Misuse of confidential information can be a significant cost to a business and ensuring the business has evidence of misuse is crucial to the success of the claim.
30 May, 2019

Liquidator ordered to pay costs of appeal personally without recourse from the company

A recent decision reinforces the importance of liquidators carefully considering whether to appeal a decision of the Court after seeking directions as they may be doing so at their own personal cost.
22 May, 2019

The case of a dispute over air conditioning that made it all the way to the Supreme Court

When a landlord failed to repair an air conditioner, the Court held that the tenant could not terminate the lease or claim that the landlord had repudiated the lease.
4 April, 2019

Court awards damages for building works not completed in a reasonable time

Renovations dragging on? A recent decision determined there was an implied term that building works be completed within a reasonable period of time.
20 March, 2019

A minor typo with major consequences for a statutory demand

Using an incorrectly spelled address when attempting to deliver a statutory demand proved to be an expensive lesson for one organisation.
12 March, 2019

PPSR Series: Getting super results from a super priority – learning how to use a PMSI under the PPSA

Special Counsel Catherine Ballantyne explains what you need to know about PMSI and the benefits and tips and tricks for registering and using them.
17 December, 2018

PPSR Series: Short term hire agreements – should your lease be registered under the PPSA?

The definition of what constitutes a lease under the PPSA is wide and if you get it wrong by failing to register a lease which should be registered on the Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR), it can be an expensive...
10 December, 2018

PPSR Series: PPSR and Leases – the $44 million mistake

Even if the leasing of goods forms just a small part of your business, you need to ensure that you register on the PPSR to ensure that your leased goods are protected.
30 November, 2018

PPSR Series: Do you have a security interest under the PPSR? Getting it right is vital

Before a party can look at registering or enforcing a security interest, they need to ensure that they have a valid security interest for the purposes of the Personal Property Securities Act Cth 2009 (PPSA). Although this may seem obvious,...
7 November, 2018

What to do when your customer becomes insolvent

It is an unfortunate reality that your business can be severely affected when one of your customers become insolvent. Special Counsel Catherine Ballantyne outlines some strategies for minimising your exposure to risk in such circumstances.
15 October, 2018

Five things you need to know about statutory demands

Statutory demands are important documents that should never be ignored. Special Counsel Catherine Ballantyne outlines what companies need to know in order to act.
4 October, 2018

Six things you need to know about defamation

With the advent of social media, traditional defamation principles are constantly being adapted in the Courts to meet the demands in our new online world. Special Counsel Catherine Ballantyne outlines what you need to know.
1 October, 2018

Beware – the penalties under Australian Consumer Law have just increased!

Penalties under Australian Consumer Law have increased significantly for individuals and corporations.
24 September, 2018

Defamatory statements against McDonalds owner comes back to bite Defendant

Defamatory posts on Facebook costs defendant after recent Victorian Supreme Court decision.
23 August, 2018

Nieces, nephews and will disputes – finding the family dynamic

Specificity is key when referencing nieces and nephews in a will.
8 August, 2018

Battle of the names: Sportsbet Pty Ltd v Crownbet Pty Ltd [2018] FCA 1045

The ability to use dormant brands and trademarks should be taken into account when considering the purchase and negotiating the purchase price when entering into a commercial agreement.
23 July, 2018

Mossgreen given red light by court for charging owners to collect their goods

Administrators’ decision to charge owners for return of their items shut down by court in a recent case.
11 April, 2018

You’re toast: Sale of Subway franchise business becomes a costly lesson

Sellers that misrepresent their sales when selling their business can wave goodbye to the protections in their contract regarding misrepresentations.
9 April, 2018

Beware: Does your contract contain an unenforceable penalty clause?

Most people think they are protected if they have contracts which contain clauses that outline the consequences if a party defaults on their obligations
2 October, 2017

Freezing orders – a strategic move in the plaintiff’s arsenal

In brief A victory in court is hollow if a defendant has hidden or dissipated assets and is unable to pay the judgment debt. A useful tool in a plaintiff’s arsenal is a freezing order – an order by the...
29 August, 2017

Beware: Payment of the debt in full may not be sufficient to stave off bankruptcy!

In brief Don’t get caught short after being served with a bankruptcy notice, which is a formal demand for payment. If you do not take action within 21 days of being served with a notice, you risk being made bankrupt....
24 August, 2017

A liquidator’s nightmare: When are liquidators personally ordered to pay an adverse cost order?

In brief To be ordered to pay an adverse cost order personally, without recourse to the assets of the company, is something liquidators wish to avoid at all costs. A recent case found that liquidators who were “imprudent” but “not...
25 July, 2017

Liquidators – be aware of the new provisions in the Corporations Act when entering into deals with members of the committee of inspection

In brief The Court has granted leave for a member of the committee of inspection to enter into a deed of assignment with the Company, despite it potentially being in contravention of section 551 of the Corporations Act (“the Act”), as shown...
19 July, 2017

The tables are turned: Shareholders examining liquidators – one liquidator’s attempt to prevent being publicly examined

In brief In this case, the spotlight has moved on to liquidators, and it’s not being well received. In a recent case, a liquidator claimed that a shareholder’s attempt to publicly examine him over a decision he made was an...
15 June, 2017

Time on the side of liquidators: Unfair preferences have become ‘fair’ for preference payments

In brief Good news for liquidators: in certain circumstances, additional transactions can now be added to an existing unfair preference claim after the expiry of the time limit. What you need to know The New South Wales Court of appeal...
8 June, 2017

Bankruptcy law update: The case of a loan agreement creating a trust and avoiding the preference provisions – a setback for Trustees

In brief A case handed down last week creates more road blocks for Trustees seeking to recover preferences from creditors of the bankrupt estate. In this case, a trust was implied into a loan agreement to have the effect that...
30 May, 2017

Are you “door knocking”? Three key facts a business needs to know about telemarketing

In brief Are you involved in telemarketing? If so, you could be one of the many businesses falling foul of the unsolicited consumer legislation – even if you don’t engage in direct marketing. What you need to know The Australian...
14 May, 2017

Compulsory land acquisition – nine key things you need to know

Under the provisions set out in the Land Acquisition and Compensation Act 1986, land required for a public purpose can be acquired/resumed by government departments and agencies.
29 March, 2017

Liquidators in Victoria owe a duty of care to guarantors of a company’s liabilities

In brief The question of whether administrators and liquidators owe a duty to guarantors of company debts is an area which has just been settled by the Victorian Supreme Court in a case that has ramifications for all liquidators and...
22 March, 2017

realestate.com.au v Domain: misleading statements that ‘brought the house down’

In brief A recent dispute between two well-known media players illustrates the need for businesses to carefully word advertisements and accurately document achievements or they could be considered misleading or deceptive. What you need to know Be careful to be...
9 March, 2017

Looking out for the little guy: Small businesses to benefit from changes in legislation on unfair contract terms

In brief On 12 November 2016, new legislation will come into force which will provide greater protection for small businesses against unfair contract terms. This change has been brought into play and will be governed by the Treasury Legislation Amendment...
5 October, 2016

Property buyer beware: an expensive lesson in ‘cooling off’!

In brief Two property purchasers in Richmond, Victoria, have learned the hard way that giving notice to the real estate agent, rather than the vendor, to terminate their residential purchase contract during the cooling off period, was not sufficient. What...
18 April, 2016

Defamation: Six issues to help you if you believe you have been defamed online

In brief With the ever-increasing practice of liberal or freethinking online communication in daily life, people are suddenly finding themselves in the position of being a potential publisher of defamatory material, or regrettably on the receiving end of disparaging remarks....
22 March, 2016

Who pays what? The issue of ‘lot liabilities’

In brief A decision in a recent Supreme Court case regarding ‘lot liabilities’ has significant implications for Owners Corporation (OC) members, OC managers and property developers. What you need to know Lot liabilities for the purpose of OC fees can...
23 November, 2015

Never say never: Company reinstated after 84 years

In brief In a rare occurrence, a court has ordered that a company be reinstated, some 84 years after it was deregistered, to enable a family to obtain its inheritance. What you need to know Time is not prohibitive to...
25 August, 2015